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Monday, September 29, 2008

Who’s Who on Ukraine in the U.S. Presidential Debate

And What’s in It for Ukraine?

Obama comes from a state with a significant Ukrainian American community. McCain comes from a party that many Ukrainian Americans vote for. Both have visited Ukraine.

Still, there seem to be certain differences in how the two view Ukraine, as far as the debate can tell.

While Obama did not shortchange Ukraine on NATO membership prospects, he referred to us as “the Ukraine” and went on to discuss cooperation with Russia. (Obama mentions Ukraine 4:42 into the video.)

By contrast, McCain demonstrated a deeper grasp of our current affairs, emphasized the threat from Russia, and exhibited a warmer attitude toward Ukraine’s NATO track. (McCain mentions Ukraine 7:07 into the video.)

It’s up to the American people to decide who will be the next president of their country.

Whoever that will be, it’s important for Ukraine that the next U.S. president builds bipartisan consensus and ensures foreign policy continuity with regard to Ukraine.

Leaving Ukraine at the mercy of the Kremlin would encourage bully behavior and would effectively penalize Ukraine for relinquishing its nuclear arsenal, the world’s third-largest.

For the West, the outcome would be a flood of refugees, a natural gas shock, and a spike in defense spending.

Make no mistake: The costs of coping with the Kremlin’s adventure far outweigh the costs of preventing it.


Anonymous said...

What's the upside for the West in taking Ukraine into NATO, in realist terms?

All you've done is a bit of scare-mongering about what MIGHT happen if Ukraine doesn' get accepted.

Taras said...

If you're interested in the upside, you should read my previous post on the issue.

The upside includes Ukraine's defense industry, human capital, and geographic position. Now, if some of that falls into the wrong hands, think of the downside.

If hell breaks loose in Ukraine, not only will you deal with a more aggressive Russia and skyrocketing energy costs, but you will also deal with an increased black market supply of arms. That means shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and perhaps even radioactive material. Correct me if I’m wrong.

As a Kyivite, I'm trying to be as realist as I can be. Various Russian governments have raided Kyiv and Ukraine throughout history and have killed millions of my fellow Ukrainians.

So it's not about scaremongering. It's about sobering up. It’s about saving lives, including mine and perhaps even yours.

Would you like to go sunbathing in Crimea the moment Moscow starts “protecting” its “citizens,” the ones it's been equipping with Russian citizenship? Come showtime, would you like to be drafted or would you rather be someplace else? Would you want to die just because somebody took your gun away and made you a sitting duck?

Would you like to have a little Chernobyl in your country? Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Taras.

Rasha has deployed warships to the Caribbean to "have fun" with Chavez and Venezuela.

rasha on its own may have a big territory, but it has limited military resources.

So far, rasha has conducted military operations in Chechniya and Georgia, and is stirring the pot in Iran, Venezuela, Moldova, Crimea, and assorted parts of Africa.

It's not "scaremongering," anonymous.

It's real. rasha is incapable of coming to its senses and acting like human beings when it comes to government.

Anonymous said...

I think the general point of the post is the phrase: ensures foreign policy continuity.

This may or may not involve NATO membership in the short to medium-term. More important is continued unambiguous engagement by the EU and the US with Ukraine in order not to give the impression that the country is behind the "red line" because it falls into someone else's "sphere."

Anonymous said...

I fully agree that Ukrainians nationalists are given to seeing the vile hand of Moscow in everything, but I've not yet succumbed to the disease. I'm still looking forward to the footage of the Russian troops in Kiev during the Orange Revolution (not to mention the MID troops burning documents on Bankovaya.)

And, of course, you absolutely dismiss any hint of Georgia's guilt or, at least complicity, in the the beginning of the recent war in the Caucasus.

Granted, recent Russian and Soviet (not without Ukrainian participation, lest we forget) did, indeed, kill a grotesque amount of Ukrainians. And that was, when? If I'm not mistaken, we'll soon be seeing the 75th anniversary. Very timely and such a good thing that the SBU seems to be involved exclusively in that, other than in the "otbelivanie" of Shukhevich and Bandera, or Holodomor activities. No wonder they miss things like tanks being shipped to Sudan!

elmer - you forget yourself: your normal puerile affectation is to write "roosha." Have you got ADD? It's pretty entertaining to see you railing about Ukrainian politicians, yet still see the "black hand" of Moscow everywhere. Especially since you see them as irrational: what then do you think of the 4-year insanity in Ukraine? Democracy? Lovely! You are good fun - I'll grant you that.

In the end, as a citizen of two Western countries (members of NATO since Day 1.) I have absolutely NO desire to see Ukraine brought in, especially on the terms of "if you don't, then this will happen..." What a load of horseshit. In any event, it won't be my life you save, or even that of my children.

Taras, given their unclear allegiances, how comfortable would you be with Belarusian and Kazakh nukes? After all, you never know, do you...And, be honest: they would not have relinquished their nukes, if Ukraine ("Khokhlyandia" for elmer and elmer alone) had not agreed to do the same.

What would the little Chernobyl in my country entail, Taras? As far as I know, Russia isn't building any reactors in either. Nor are we swimming in Ukrainian nuke technicians.

In short, blackmail may be the currency du jour of Ukrainian politics, but it won't work for me. Make a better case for NATO than "we're an unstable oligarchy, but youd'd better take us, or else."

Taras said...


Are you willing to become a citizen and permanent resident of Ukraine if and when Moscow uses its *virtuous* hand? For the sake of argument, your presence and participation would be very much appreciated.

Russian troops did not appear in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. They had plundered Kyiv during the Great October Revolution.

Georgia did not invade Russia. Georgia attempted to regain control over a province that belongs to it according to international law. Was it brutal? Yes. Was Russia’s response lawful? No. Unlike Georgia, Russia craves what does not belong to it.

Ukraine is shipping tanks to Sudan? Has this claim been confirmed? If so, I wouldn’t be proud of it. Unfortunately, it would only support my claim about the risk of an increase in black market arms supplies should Russia attack Ukraine.

The SBU is whitewashing Bandera and Shukhevych? How? By saying that, after two years of Stalin’s reign of terror in 1939-41, western Ukraine briefly and naively fancied Hitler as the lesser evil but then fought both Hitler and Stalin? Did Ukraine run the equivalent of the Vichy regime or Vlasov’s army?

And what’s so grotesque about genocide? Does the fact that the Holodomor took place a decade prior to the Holocaust make it ancient history? What’s wrong with naming Holodomor perpetrators — be they big or small, Ukrainian or non-Ukrainian? Does the fact that people of Jewish origin served in the Wehrmacht make the Holocaust a joke? Does the fact that Hitler killed more Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians than Jews make the Holocaust a non-genocide?

You know, I’d be much more comfortable in a state of deterrence with Belarusian and Kazakh nukes than in a state of non-deterrence with Russian nukes. If the countries in which you have citizenship possess nuclear arsenals, would they be more comfortable with the Russian arsenal and no arsenals of their own?

You obviously place a high value on your security. There’s nothing wrong with that. But do you live in one of those countries that promised to guarantee the security of Ukes-without-nukes? If so, how does it feel to be so secure and not give a shit about a country that contributed to your security (up to a point)? Would you like Russian champagne and caviar? How many Ukes does your security cost?

You don’t like ifs and whens. You don’t seem to like Ukraine either. It’s okay. You don’t have to. But if you think Ukraine does not have enough radioactive material and know-how that terrorists could seize upon amid the mayhem to produce a stockpile of dirty bombs, think again.

So you better make sure Moscow keeps its *virtuous* hand to itself.

Once Moscow puts that hand where it doesn’t belong, there’s no guarantee Chernobyl will not come to where you belong.

Thank you, Elmer and Vitaliy!

The idea of shrugging Ukraine off as some sort of red light district for the pirates of the Kremlin seems to be a bad strategy.

Appeasement fuels aggression. Russian aggression against my country would have a spillover effect reaching far beyond my country’s borders.

I hope history won’t go so far as to prove my slice-of-death point.

Anonymous said...

Little Kremlinite anonymous shows up to spout sovok stuff about Bandera and Shukhevych - and to pretend that it no longer matters, when in reality even today it's a huge bug up his butt.

I'm glad, anonymous, that you see such humor in my railing against Ukrainian politicians. You see, dumb ass, the part of the problem is that some of the Ukrainian politicians are being held firmly by the balls, voluntarily, by the "virtuous hand" of maskva. To the detrminent of Ukraine. One notable example is rooshan oligarch thug Novitsky, who somehow keep showing up with Akhmetov in Ukrainian deals.

Another is RosUkrenergo, with Firtash and buddies.

roosha is just a bunch of 21st century barbarians. Now, the rooshan barbarians are running around, picking out "patron saints of missiles," and "patron saints of jails." One of the UGLIEST things on this planet is the oily rooshan orthodox church, where wizards dressed in costumes put buckets on their heads, wave their arms, pretend to pray to God, and suck up to government.

Seems the biggest "patron saint" in roosha is -- Stalin.

As far as the "virtuous hand" of maskva, just look at scags like Zvirinovsky and Luzhkov (proud owner of a mansion in London, and mayor of maskva):

The best way to deal with roosha is the same way one deals with any thug bully - you stand up to it and beat it over the head.

Taras - again, excellent job!

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand, what the problem saying "the Ukraine"? Interesting enough, that the country is a topic in a presidential debate in the US. Instead of emphasizing that, you begin to criticize them. There was a time, when all presidents of the US were talking about Ukraine as Russia...

Taras said...

Thank you, Elmer!

The *virtuous* hand will never be at home with itself as long as it treats its people and their neighbors as molecules in imperial designs. That hand must stop hurting them.

Still, let’s try not to stereotype the entire Russian people and Orthodox believers as barbarians or slaves.

Yes, they do have slave mentality — just as many Ukrainians do. Yes, the Russian Orthodox Church operates as a propaganda department of the Kremlin — both in Russia and Ukraine.

The rituals you described also pertain to the Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, in which I was baptized. They can be found in virtually all Orthodox Churches, be they Russian, Ukrainian, Greek or Bulgarian.

I know quite a few Russians who realize that Ukrainians have their own language and culture and that for centuries Russian governments suppressed them. We get along just fine.

Ukraine and Russia can be good neighbors if we respect each other and reform our societies.

It’s all about I’m Ok, You’re Ok.

Taras said...

Thanks for commenting!

“The Ukraine,” as you know, defines Ukraine as a province, not as a country. So why not point this out? Do we need “the Ukraine” to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I want the next U.S. president to see my country as a country, not as a province. It’s not “the Ukraine.” It’s Ukraine.

Anonymous said...

Taras, let's do.

The rituals may be similar elsewhere - but the people who use those rituals do so to express their belief in God, not to prop up political schemes and agendas of the Kremlin, to whom they are subservient.

Let's do stereotype, Taras. In its entire history, there has never been a moment when the rooshan people, as a whole, finally woke up to the brutal governments they have always had, when they finally said "enough of Kremlin thugs, whether tsarist or soviet or "managed democracy" kleptocrat/KGB.

You can walk into a Ukrainian Orthodox, or Greek Orthodox, or Bulgarian Orthodox, or Ukrainian Catholic church.

In those churches, they don't pray to the Kremlin, they don't pray to "saint tsar nicholas" and they don't pray to stalin.

It's not the same as rooshan orthodox.

And, yes, I've met those Russians who are human beings. But they are not the same as the "patriarchs" and "priests" of the oily rooshan orthodox church who sit with politicians and drink themselves into a frenzy drinking shots of vodka with toast after toast to the glory of the kremlin - not God.

Anonymous said...

Let's do stereotype, Taras.

Little Kremlinite shows up on your blog to tell you and me about the "otbelivanie", the whitewashing, of Bandera and Shukhevych.

Ah, yes, glorious sovok-stalinist history. If Ukraine opens its eyes, and it has, and starts writing actual facts instead of stalinist/fascist/sovok fairy tales, little Kremlinite, who along with millions of other rooshans has been brainwashed into thinking that Stalin was a good fairy godmother, thinks that that is "whitewashing."

Stalin didn't have people "disappeared" from pictures, movies - and history books?

Stalin didn't have people disappeared by the millions into gulags?

Papa Joe didn't know anything about political terror killings during the Great Terror?

Why, no - according to our little Kremlinite, and millions of other rooshans just like him, including the stupid babushkas who to this day carry icons of saint papa joe stalin, Papa Joe never personally signed death warrants, including the famous one - where, as to 137 people he signed a directive - "kill them all."

Little kremlinite won't wake up - hence, if noone swalls oily orthodox mother sovok roosha propaganda - it's "whitewashing."

The problem is that little Kremlinite who appears on this blog is just like quite a few other rooshans.

Still grasping for the lost glory of tsarist/imperialist/mighty sovok/mother oily orthodox roosha - doesn't matter, as long as roosha is beating up its own citizens - and invading other countries.

So let's do stereotype, Taras.

In this case, there's a basis for it.

Now let the rooshans pray for the glory of saint Vlad Dracul Putin, patron saint of the rooshan oily orthodox church.

Now let the rooshans pray in war to almighty lord and savior of the kremlin, Vlad Dracul Oilman Putin.

Now let the rooshans pray in war to almighy lord and savior of the kremlin, Vlad Dracul Oilman Putin, that he might beat them better, as they are accustomed, and for Putin's sake, no opposition, amen.

And to the glory of oily orthodox mother roosha, amen, slavala boogaloo, amen.

Taras said...

Elmer, most of what you said needs no further discussion. We’ve already covered that.

There was a moment when the Russians and, for that matter, we Ukrainians began to wake up. It was in the late '80s-early '90s, during perestroika. Then came the dark ages of grabitization, or the Great Giveaway, as the Kyiv Post put it.

In 2004, we Ukrainians tried to wake up and change the trajectory. At Maidan, I saw a delegation of young Russians walking around with a tricolor, speaking with a Moscow accent. They came as friends. I think they came with Boris Nemtsov.

When we stereotype, we forget those people. I don’t want to do that. Without being naive, I want to leave room for friendship and change.

Anonymous said...

Notice, Taras, that I said that I've met those Russians who are human beings.

And I take your point.

But what I said does need repeating, for 2 reasons. First, the kremlinites who post all over Ukraine keep repeating their tripe over and over and over and over.

Second, freedom seems not to be concept which rooshans in roosha care about - or comprehend.

Taras said...

Arguing with people who want Ukraine to be a part of Russia often involves a high degree of emotion.

But do you ever win if you resort to mudwrestling? I don't want to do that. I want to differentiate myself.

If I constantly referred to Russia as Roosha, the Russians who value their freedom and the freedom of their neighbors would not see me as a friend.

Communication is about building bridges, not barriers.

Anonymous said...

OK, Taras, on the level -

Russia has just enacted legislation making Russians anywhere in the world citizens of Russia - so Russia can "protect" them.

Read this article from Der Spiegel about what rooshans are doing in Crimea. Then, I would appreciate your thoughts on how to build bridges with people whose only thought is rooshan claimed superiority and domination - and that everyone else ought to "come to their senses" and come into the rooshan fold.

Taras said...

Thank you for the link, Elmer!

I don’t want any bridges for those who seek to colonize Ukraine with “Russian citizens” and drag my country back into the empire.

The bridges should work for those who think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I'm an interested american woman. I'm so glad the internet exists, so that I can learn about your country here on your blog.

Regarding Obama's saying, "the Ukraine": we say "the United States" and "the UK", but not "the Russia" or "the China". I don't know why. He said, "...In countries like Georgia, the Ukraine..."

I'm very sure that we'd all say, analogously, "In countries like Russia, the United States..."

Conversely, we'd never say, "In countries like United States..." But we would say, "In countries like America", not "the America".

I really have no idea right now what the basis for the difference might be. You've raised an important linguistic point I think - but maybe, probably, not a political one.

Am I making a valid point here?

Taras said...

Thank you for your interest, Lauren!

You’re making an absolutely valid point here. You can think of the Ukraine as old usage and a case where grammar meets politics. The Ukraine indicated a territory, a province, not a country. Since Ukraine regained independence, the definite article has been dropped.

Foreign governments and the UN generally follow this rule, but not all ordinary English speakers and politicians do. For Senator Obama, who chairs the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, referring to Ukraine as the Ukraine may not be as excusable as it might have been for an ordinary English speaker.

Also, as you probably know, many news agencies and English speakers still call Kyiv Kiev, relying on the name’s transliteration from Russian, even though many have already switched from Kishinev to Chişinău and from Bombay to Mumbai.

Kyiv, Chişinău, and Mumbai fall into the category of decolonized geographic names. As in many other parts of the world, countries in the former Soviet Union have sought to liberate themselves from the linguistic legacy of colonialism.